Meal Planning = Family Meals = Awesome!

family-having-a-picnic-at-the-beach_BYQ45IRri.jpg

Meal Planning is all the rage and I love it! Why?  Because meal planning = family meals. Family meals have been shown time and time again to be good for both body and mind. They make us smarter, healthier and happier!

Perhaps "family meal" brings up memories of large holiday gatherings with lucious spreads. Sounds delicious right? BUT, this vision can get in the way of meal planning. Why? It leads us to believe that family meals means special

However, family meals are not limited to special occasions or events. Family meals is anytime when everyone pauses and eats. Simply put, a family meal is: 

An eating occasion where family members come together to eat from the same foods at the same time.

 Family meals don't even need to be at a table or be food that you made yourself. For example, a picnic of sub sandwiches at the ball field with everyone sharing from a bowl of baby carrots (or cucumbers or apple slices or even chips) is a family meal. (It is important to plan for out of house meals, but that is for a different post!) 

Just like we aren't rigid with what is called a meal, we also are not rigid on what we call a family. Family can include our chosen family members like our closest friends. 

Although we know there are many benefits, we still don't know exactly what about family meals makes a difference. Family meals do have important health benefits (see this article, this one, and this )  however nutrition is not the sole benefit of family meals. Sharing, connecting, having fun are equally important drivers. Don't let desires for a nutrient-packed meal that everyone will love, get in the way of enjoying quality time together.  A healthy diet isn't made by one meal or eating certain foods or food groups. 

Meal planning tip #1. Keep the spirit of family meals at the heart of your meal planning. Time pressure is real. Keep it simple and fun. 

Next Tip: Be considerate, but don't cater.